Christie’s is launching a new division dedicated exclusively to luxury sneakers, streetwear and sports collectibles. For the occasion, the house is organizing a private sale of two pairs of rare sneakers: the Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype and the Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI.
Titled Department X, the new sector is led by Caitlin Donovan, the current responsible for handbags and accessories at Christie’s Americas.
Launching “with a finger on the pulse of popular culture and the evolution of what is defined as luxury today”, Department X will “cross multiple genres of popular culture and collecting – music, fashion and the history of the sport,” Donovan said in a statement.
Christie’s hopes to capitalize on the hype – and considerable capital – surrounding streetwear by offering the most expensive pair of shoes ever sold on its inaugural release.
The Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype, designed by Nike creative director Mark Smith and designer Tiffany Beers for rapper Kanye West, was worn during a legendary performance by the hip-hop star at the 50th annual Grammy Music Awards in 2007. The same pair sold for $1.8 million in a private transaction at Sotheby’s in 2021. The buyer, an investment platform known as Raresbuys and co-resells high-end sneakers.
Additionally, Christie’s will offer the Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI, a rare pair of rose-patterned Jordans that West dedicated to his late mother in 2008. The Donda West VIs were never released to the public and were created only for a small circle of West’s friends; only four to six pairs are thought to exist, according to Christie’s.
Christie’s latest division builds on the growing market for hip-hop memorabilia, streetwear and sports collectibles, which began a surge in 2020 as people started looking for places to park the car. stimulus money and income from crypto and stock markets. Between 2019 and 2021, the sports collectibles market alone grew from $1 billion to $10 billion, according to a study by specialist house Goldin Auctions.
These new categories have also helped auction houses attract new collectors. Crypto entrepreneur Ryan Zurrer, for example, bought the infamous KONY (King of New York) crown, worn by the late Brooklyn rapper Notorious BIG, for $594,000 in September 2020.
Department X’s inaugural offering, “Ye Walks,” will stand as a private sale exhibition on the auction house’s site in New York from September 27 to October 26.
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